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Decision to overturn Roe clashes with views of a majority of Americans

Abortion-rights activists gather for a protest following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at Union Square, Friday, June 24, 2022, in New York. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. Friday's outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.Yuki Iwamura/Associated Press

Few issues are more politically fraught than abortion. So it is notable that the decision by Republican-appointed justices to end a constitutional right to abortion conflicted with the views of a majority of Americans.

In a recent SCOTUSPoll, for example, 62.3 percent of respondents opposed overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that established abortion rights. Just 37.8 percent of respondents believed the Supreme Court should do so.

The nationally representative survey was conducted from March 30 to April 6, before a draft version of the opinion leaked, and polled more than 2,100 adult residents of the United States. It was sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of Texas.

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Not surprisingly, the results were somewhat different when broken down by political party. By an even larger margin, Democrats overwhelmingly said they opposed overturning Roe, 78.8 percent to 21.2 percent. A smaller but still large majority of independents and members of third parties shared that view: 62.7 percent to 37.4 percent.

By contrast, a slightly smaller but also still sizable majority of Republicans — 59.2 percent — said they wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, while 40.8 percent of Republicans said they were opposed.

The same poll also asked whether the specific Mississippi law at issue — which bans abortions after 15 weeks — is constitutional. The results were largely similar, but there was a striking flip among the independents: A small majority, 52.2 percent, joined Republicans in saying they thought the law should be upheld.